Thursday, October 30, 2014

recommended gigs

Friday October 31 - Voodoo Organist and Delta Bombers with the Punknecks and the Octanes at the Dive Bar
Friday October 31 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Dillinger

Saturday Nov 1 - Tarah Grace and the Magnetics with Stone Jack Jones at the Bunkhouse

Friday Nov 7 - GWAR at Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip
Friday Nov 7 - the Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Sat Nov 8 - Trevor and the Jones at the Bunkhouse

Friday Nov 14 - The Swamp Gospel with Cashed Out, Eddie Bear and the Cubs and the Ditch Diggers at the Beauty Bar

Friday Nov 14 - The Maxies, Mapes, Time Crashed and Alan Six at the Dive Bar
Friday Nov 14 - Jinxy Bear - LVCS

Sunday November 16 - the Psyatics with Water Landing, Har Mar Superstar and Pizza Underground at LV Country Saloon

Saturday Nov 22 - the Unwieldies with Roy Zimmerman at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Las Vegas
Saturday Nov 22 - Jinxy Bear - Cheyenne Saloon

Friday Dec 5 - the Unwieldies at Boomers

Saturday Dec 20 - The Swamp Gospel and The Gentlemen of Four Outs at the Double Down Saloon

Saturday Jan 10, 2015 - the Psyatics with the Dictators NYC at LV Country Saloon

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Psyatics / Fishing Season - The Hard Hat Lounge, Saturday October 25, 2014

It wasn't all that long ago that I first found out about the Hard Hat Lounge and it has become one of my favorite places in town to see live music - it's small and intimate, with nice personnel, surprisingly good food and cheap drinks. The interior stage is quite small, though, so if a band has more than 3 members, it gets crowded. So, the club has taken it upon themselves to rectify this situation by converting a school bus into a mobile stage which they set up in the parking lot for special shows, such as this one. This weekend hosted one of the many answers to the megatron festival, Life is Beautiful, which was called Vegas Is Beautiful, as it hosted local bands (unlike LIB). As I am old and have a hectic life right now, I missed most of the festival but made it out to see my pals, the Psyatics, since it has been far too long in between shows.

I got to the club in time to see Fishing Season again and this nautically themed trio continues to lie in that limbo-land where I'm not quite sure about them one way or another. The set does vary a bit and I definitely enjoy some tunes more than others. I think they may grow on me, especially as they gel a bit more as a band and as musicians. The songs are simple, but definitely have some hooks and some interesting twists and turns. I'm sure our paths will cross again.


It seems like it's been quite a while since I've seen the Psyatics, for one reason or another, and I'm glad I was able to change that! This three-piece has been working on a new record - the follow up to their rockin' debut Oderint dum Metuant - and showcased a few new tunes this evening, including the opening "You Got Me Hummin'". The guys were in fine form this evening, with everyone sounding better than ever - Rob kinda channeling Tom Waits at times in his vocals and presence, while showing off his bass playing skills (playing regularly in 3 bands pays off!), Jack definitely more confident on stage and moving more while tossin' out wild riffs and Jimmy positively smokin' on the drums!

They did forgo the laptop, which they had used to provide between-song noise and movie ads, but made up for it by making their own sonic disturbances. The sound on this bus was actually way above average for this town - everyone was heard and balanced properly, nothing was overly loud and it has a real lighting rig, so you can even see the drummer!


The CD was well-represented with rockers like "Stole Your Girl", "Death of Me", Dig It Up", "Bourbon Sway", "Oncoming Train", the slower, moody "Evangaline", "Swing on This" and more. There were at least a couple other new ones, like "Sharpest Claws" and "Sin City Dames", both highlighting time changes and Jimmy's drumming and Rob's walking bass lines, along with Jack's piercing leads. They finished up with the frantic Oblivions' cover, "Trouble" and left people wanting more!



Always amazing to see these cats - check 'em out whenever and wherever ya can! They have some high profile gigs coming up, as well as regular stints at cool dives like the Double Sown, so get on down and support local psychotic Psyatics' garage rock'n'roll!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

RIP Jack Bruce


Cream bassist Jack Bruce dies, aged 71 
---
Another legend from my youth gone way too young. His bass playing influenced thousands and his song-writing was pretty damn inspired, as well. Of course, Cream's excesses also helped to bring about punk, but I love 'em anyway.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Unwieldies at the Velveteen Rabbit, Thursday 10-23-14

Alright, alright, I know I've gone on about this terrific acoustic group a number of times on this blog, but it's only because they really are that good. The Velveteen Rabbit is a fine place to hear their sounds, as it seems more conducive to acoustic music than some other venues in town. Everyone was in fine form this evening and the songwriting really is highlighted when you can really hear the lyrics and melodies as well as the music. The songs range from heartbreak to anger to love (sometimes in one tune, I believe) and lots more and the words are always truly clever and the vocals trade-off, harmonize and switch leads, keeping anything from becoming too samey. New(ish) addition Richard adds some nice touches on dobro and acoustic guitar and Jack's violin playing seemed especially strong this night.

As I always say, I'm not much of a writer and words often tend to fail me, but if you dig well-crafted tunes with great vocals and fine playing, check 'em out.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

recommended gigs

Thursday Oct 23 - Astaires record release party at the Beauty Bar
Thursday Oct 23 - the Unwieldies at Velveteen Rabbit with Yaquina Bay
Thursday Oct 23 - the Cold Blue Rebels at the Dive Bar

Friday Oct 24 - the Psyatics with the Vibrators at the Double Down
Friday Oct 24 - The Lucky Cheats, Crazy Chief, and more at the Beauty Bar
Friday Oct 24 - Water Landing and much more for Vegas is Beautiful at the Hard Hat

Saturday Oct 25 - Thee Mapes, Vermin, Frank and Deans - Double Down Saloon
Saturday Oct 25 - The Psyatics at the Hard Hat w/the Laissez Fairs and much more for Vegas is Beautiful!
Saturday Oct 25 - Time Crashers, 3D6 and much more at Cheese Boy Comics!
Saturday Oct 25 - Life is Shit festival at the Dive Bar
Saturday Oct 25 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Wednesday Oct 29 - Crazy Chief at the Bunkhouse with Immigrant Union and Gold Star
Wednesday Oct 29 - the All Togethers at the Griffin

Friday October 31 - Voodoo Organist and Delta Bombers with the Punknecks and the Octanes at the Dive Bar
Friday October 31 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Dillinger

Saturday Nov 1 - Tarah Grace and the Magnetics with Stone Jack Jones at the Bunkhouse

Friday Nov 7 - GWAR at Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip
Friday Nov 7 - the Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Sat Nov 8 - Trevor and the Jones at the Bunkhouse

Friday Nov 14 - The Swamp Gospel with Cashed Out, Eddie Bear and the Cubs and the Ditch Diggers at the Beauty Bar

Friday Nov 14 - The Maxies, Mapes, Time Crashed and Alan Six at the Dive Bar
Friday Nov 14 - Jinxy Bear - LVCS

Sunday November 16 - the Psyatics with Water Landing, Har Mar Superstar and Pizza Underground at LV Country Saloon

Saturday Nov 22 - the Unwieldies with Roy Zimmerman at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Las Vegas
Saturday Nov 22 - Jinxy Bear - Cheyenne Saloon

Friday Dec 5 - the Unwieldies at Boomers

Saturday Jan 10, 2015 - the Psyatics with the Dictators NYC at LV Country Saloon

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wayne Hancock - A-Town Blues

After seeing Wayne Hancock last week at the Dive Bar, even though it ran late enough on a Tuesday
night that I couldn't stick around, I was sufficiently impressed to want to look into his background further. I randomly (ok, it was the cheapest one I could find offhand) chose this CD, his fourth. There's no pix of the backing band here, so no idea if he has any fixed players, but on this CD the instrumental line-up is essentially the same as the group he had with him here - 2 guitars (Tony Lake, Dave Biller) a steel player (Jeremy Wakefield) and stand-up bass (2 players here - Shawn Supra and Ric Ramirez) - and are all top-notch. The sound is old-school country - as I said before, I was surprised to find that Wayne wasn't an original cat, as he sounds properly traditional, as a real C&W cat should.

Some tunes remind me of Hank Williams, some are more rockabilly-oriented, some are hillbilly-swing, some are almost blues and all are well-written and swingin'. Since the steel player here in Vegas was female, obviously is was not Jeremy, but he smokes the strings here and adds a fine flavor to the tunes. The stand-up has enough rhythm to keep you from missing any drums, and both guitarists add tasty licks, while Wayne's vocals are up there with the best in the field.

I freely admit that I'm not a country aficionado but until recently I had no idea that there were people still playing old-time country, as it should sound, instead of the pure crap that is popular these days. Nice to find and this just makes me want to discover more of Wayne's music. One to get, for sure!

Whiskey Breath - live at the Bunkhouse CD


Another local country-esque band that I have raved about numerous times is the drinkin'n'screwin'n'fightin'n'whatever wildcats, Whiskey Breath. This CD is from a live set recorded at the (old) Bunkhouse, showing the band at their inebriated best!

The set begins with one of the most covered tunes of all time, "Folsum Prison Blues", done with plenty of piss and punk-rock vigor! Original live favorites follow, like the melodic "Westbound", "Wagon With a Broken Wheel" (about falling off the wagon - nice lyrics, tune and harmonies), "Summer Wind" (with guitarist Lahm doubling on harmonica, giving it a folkie feel), a Fred Eaglesmith number about turning to a life of crime, "Time to Get a Gun", their religious drinkin' song, "May Whiskey Be With You", another ode to bourbon, "Jim Beam is My Home Boy", a pretty faithful rendition of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", an original titled "Midnight Special" (a song about loving one person but thinking about someone else), and, of course, closing with "She Broke My Heart So I Broke Her Jaw", which has offended more than a few, probably even as they were singing along with it!

Great vocals, great harmonies, solid rhythm section, great songwriting - cool stuff all around. As a guitarist, I wish that Lahm would take a few more leads (since I know he is capable), but that's my only complaint, if ya wanna call it that. See them when ya can and pick us this CD at their gigs - they're also selling for a measly 5 spot!

Eddy Bear and the Cubs - demo CD

I've raved about Eddy Bear and the Cubs (though I guess I kept spelling it "Eddie") quite a number of
times here as Las Vegas' premier country/honky-tonk band. While some of the members may change, the quality is consistently high and they continue to keep gettin' better'n'better. They have now gotten around to recording a few tracks and are selling these demos at their shows until some record label is smart enough to pick them up and put out an "official" release. In the meantime, be sure to get this, as it is a high quality memento of their live shows!

For this session, they have Lucky Cheats string-wrangler-supreme, Wade Braggs, on lead guitar, along with stalwarts Erik & Larry on guitars and vocals, Davis on bass and their mysterious drummer, who is terrific, but whose name I can never remember (although, to be fair, I believe that there has been more than one). They pull some of the best tunes from their live show and all of the performances are smokin' and tasty!

The opener is George Jones' "You're Still on My Mind", with Erik singing lead and with some inventive C&W licks from Wade, fine harmonies from Larry and a swingin' backbeat. What follows is a unusual, slower, minor-key number that I do not remember from their live shows - Wayne Hancock's "Thunderstorms and Neon Signs", given the Cubs treatment and sung in Larry's catchy baritone. They pick up the pace in Merle Haggard's short'n'sweet "Somebody Else You've Known" (Erik on lead, with more great harmonies from Larry and Wade impressing me yet again) and raise the energy once more for Gram Parsons' country-rock tune "Ooh Las Vegas". Larry returns on lead vox for their unique mash-up of Freddie King's fantastic "Goin' Down" and Jimi Hendrix' "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", with plenty of their own touches, and then they wrap everything up with Larry's rendition of the Saddle Tramps' lewd and crude "I'm the Bulge in Satan's Pants" - goofy but rockin' cow-punk.

These cats are always a blast live and this is a high-quality souvenir of their gigs. Catch 'em at a honky-tonk near you and slap down the measly 5 bux for this disc! You won't regret it!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

recommended gigs

Friday October 17 - 3D6, Lambs to Lions, Sector 7-G, Geezus Cryst and Free Beer
Friday October 17 - Tarah Grace and the Magnetics - Triple B
Friday October 17 - the All Togethers and the Beau Hodges Band at the Bunkhouse
Friday October 17 - Bogtrotters Union at Whiskey Dicks

Saturday Oct 18 - Super Zeroes at Double Down with Monogrim

Wednesday Oct 22 - Eddie Bear and the Cubs and the Sundowners at the Griffin

Thursday Oct 23 - Astaires record release party at the Beauty Bar
Thursday Oct 23 - the Unwieldies at Velveteen Rabbit with Yaquina Bay
Thursday Oct 23 - the Cold Blue Rebels at the Dive Bar

Friday Oct 24 - the Psyatics with the Vibrators at the Double Down
Friday Oct 24 - The Lucky Cheats, Crazy Chief, and more at the Beauty Bar
Friday Oct 24 - Water Landing and much more for Vegas is Beautiful at the Hard Hat

Saturday Oct 25 - Thee Mapes, Vermin, Frank and Deans - Double Down Saloon
Saturday Oct 25 - The Psyatics at the Hard Hat w/the Laissez Fairs and much more for Vegas is Beautiful!
Saturday Oct 25 - Time Crashers, 3D6 and much more at Cheese Boy Comics!
Saturday Oct 25 - Life is Shit festival at the Dive Bar
Saturday Oct 25 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Friday October 31 - Voodoo Organist and Delta Bombers with the Punknecks and the Octanes at the Dive Bar
Friday October 31 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Dillinger

Friday Nov 7 - GWAR at Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip
Friday Nov 7 - the Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Friday Nov 14 - The Swamp Gospel with Cashed Out, Eddie Bear and the Cubs and the Ditch Diggers at the Beauty Bar

Friday Nov 14 - The Maxies, Mapes, Time Crashed and Alan Six at the Dive Bar

Sunday November 16 - the Psyatics with Water Landing, Har Mar Superstar and Pizza Underground at LV Country Saloon

Friday Dec 5 - the Unwieldies at Boomers

Saturday Jan 10, 2015 - the Psyatics with the Dictators NYC at LV Country Saloon

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Wayne Hancock, Eddie Bear and the Cubs, Whiskey Breath, the Unwieldies, Fishing Season at the Dive Bar Tuesday Oct 14, 2014

Pretty damn exceptional line-up for this night at the Dive Bar. They definitely try to give you as much bang-for-yer-buck at these gigs and this night things started at a fairly reasonable time, so it wasn't an overly late Tuesday night.

Starting the night was a group that I was completely unfamiliar with called Fishing Season, who had a somewhat nautical theme to their look, down to the bass (fish) mounted on the bass drum. The songs tended to have a kinda sea chanty feel to them and the lead guitarist had a really cool and interesting tone that sounded almost violin-like. Couldn't really think of anyone that they sounded like - think that someone mentioned Cake and I thought vaguely Violent Femmes, but that's not really it, either.


The Unwieldies are now performing with dobro/second acoustic guitarist Richard Wells, which is a nice addition to their sound (and check out his contributions to their new CD, Always the Optimist) and which frees Jack Ball to concentrate solely on violin. Unfortunately, the number of acoustic instruments going through the PA created a sonic problem for this primarily electric venue and the sound balance for the band was, frankly, pretty bad. Feedback, distortion and other issues that do not work well with wooden music detracted from the Unwieldies lovely melodies and intricate tones. They persevered and still performed well, with some powerful moments ("Rain Damage", especially, stood out), but it was not their best - through no fault of their own. See them next Thursday at the Velveteen Rabbit, which seems more suited for their sound.


Thankfully, the sound issues were cleared up for Whiskey Breath's set, although they only had one acoustic instrument, so there were less obstacles to overcome! Guitarists Brandon and Lahm often perform as a duo (and Brandon sometimes even braves it as a solo at times), and their songs hold up well in that format, but it's always good to see the full band rockin' out with their blend of country and r'n'r. The rhythm section of Justin and Steve adds plenty to the sound as they lock in with the cool groove (though the pedal simulating a double bass drum set-up was a bit unnecessary :) ) and contribute to the melody and dynamics. The guys did a number of their catchy originals - "Jim Beam is my Home Boy", "Midnight Special" ("loving her but I was thinking about you"), "You're To Blame", "Westbound" - as well as a nice take on "Down Home Girl" (the Lieber/Butler song done by the Coasters and the Stones). Of course, they closed with their "controversial" song about domestic violence "She Broke My Heart So I Busted Her Jaw" (the title of which Spooky Tooth used first, but does anyone but me remember that?). Well written and memorable song, but it has gotten them banned from at least one establishment. For some reason, Lahm seemed to be hanging back on the harmonies this night, though his singing compliments Brandon well, and if I had any complaints, it would be that I would like to hear him riff a bit more around the songs, but I guess that's the guitarist in me talking!


While Eddie Bear and the Cubs have a somewhat revolving line-up, tonight we got the main men Larry (vocals/guitar), Erik (vocals/guitar), Davis (bass), their rock-solid drummer (I'm sorry I can never remember his name! Wish they would put members on their Facebook page!) and smokin' lead guitarist Brian. They sounded terrific this night and it's always a pleasure to watch and hear these men work - the playing is all top-notch (I always keep my eyes on Brian's playing hands to try to get some tips) and the vocals and harmonies are excellent - Erik has the smoother voice while Larry is gruffer, but still melodic, and his singing better than ever each time I see them. Surprises (to me, anyway) this night included a fine take on Elvis' "Little Sister"and the Blasters' "Long White Cadillac" and their closer, the medley of "Going Down" and "Voodoo Chile" always pleases! I think that there is a lot of talent nowadays in LV and the Cubs are right up there with my faves in town!







I was not familiar with Wayne Hancock before and was surprised to find out that he was born in '65 and made his debut recording in 1995! His sound is old-school country and I assumed that he was an earlier dude since he has such a superior, traditional sound. His line up this night including him on acoustic guitar, a stand-up bass, a female steel guitar player (who stood while playing - highly unusual), and two lead players with different sounds - an acoustic/electric player that had a bit of a jazzier feel and a Tele man who played a bit more traditional (and terrific) country and rockabilly licks. He lists influences such as Hank Williams (I believe that they did one of his tunes, though I didn't write down which one), Ernest Tubbs and Jimmie Rogers and this is all apparent in his show. Wayne has a fine voice, as well, and the material is all strong. He had some issues with his sound this night - personal preference as opposed to real problems - so I don't know if he was completely happy with the night, but the many fans in the audience, who stayed late on a Tuesday night, certainly dug it all!



Another strong Dive Bar night! Thanks to all for making this one happen!